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How To Grow Cowpeas In Zambia

by Idris Ya'u
This article was fact checked.
Helpful: 100%

Zambia is a country that anyone should try to visit someday. It got its name from the Zambezi River and it’s landlocked in south-central Africa. A lot of things make this country a paradise which is, Victoria Falls, varieties of wildlife and birds, beautiful culture, etc.

Zambia has many plant species like Miombo protea, Satyrium, Asclepiad (milkweed), etc and cowpea is one of them. Cowpeas serve as a source of food and livelihood for Zambians. The leguminous plant gives protein, vitamins and its young leaves and immature pods serve as vegetables.

If you want to solve poor soil fertility issues in an area, then consider growing cowpea using crop rotation as it can supply soil nitrogen to cereal crops. It requires less nitrogen fertilization because it possesses bacteria called Rhizobia in its roots that fix the air nitrogen.

However, all these benefits of cowpeas won’t be feasible without proper requirements. In this article, I’ll be deliberating on how to grow cowpea in the country.

Requirements For Growing Cowpeas In Zambia

1) Soil and temperature requirements

As a crop that doesn’t tolerate waterlogging, drought conditions, Sandy soil, and poor soils are suitable for it. Therefore, Zambians in the agro-ecological zones of region 1 will enjoy this benefit.

2) Land preparation for planting

Hoes, axes, plows, etc are necessary for preparing land for cowpeas. Clear your field of trees and shrubs before plowing or ripping it, as you wish. A flat land or ridges can be chosen for planting and plowing should be followed by harrowing to make adequate soil texture for optimum root growth. Minimal or no-tillage should be done where soils are more unstable and susceptible to erosion.

Read also: How To Grow Cowpeas In South Africa

3) Planting and isolation distance

Having good seeds is where, to begin with, if you want to start planting. The best months to plant cowpeas are from early May to early August. However, there are certain rules for keeping a distance when planting cowpeas. They are as follows:

  1. Plant seeds at a 50cm x 20cm spacing between rows and between rows if the type being planted is an upright one.
  2. Plant semi-erect varieties 75 cm x 30 cm apart, and prostrate kinds 75 cm x 50 cm apart.
  3. Make sure to have 1-2 plants per station for all appropriate plant spacings, and sow seeds at a depth of 2.5 to 5 cm; putting seeds deeper than 5 cm will cause emergence to be delayed.

Tip: Learn more about growing cowpeas from seeds

4) Choose the right Varieties

Not all cowpeas are suitable for your agro-ecological zone in Zambia because weather conditions vary. The best varieties in Zambia that mature within 2½ months are Bubebe, Lutembwe, Msandile, Namuseba, and Mtilizi.

Factors to be considered when choosing a suitable variety are maturity period, production level, size, and colors of the seeds, drought, pest, and disease tolerance.

5) Fertilizer application

Cowpeas are tolerant with more phosphorus to enhance nodulation and need less nitrogen because the nodules in its root fix the air’s nitrogen. Adding Compound D (NPK) fertilizer in tiny amounts at planting or shortly after germination is recommended if you need to accelerate its growth at an early stage, especially if the soils are deficient in nutrients.

Read also:

6) Weeding to reduce competition

Every farmer should endeavor to remove weeds from their plants because they compete for nutrients. Cowpeas are no exception, hence the proper method of weeding should be adopted to avoid the death of the crop.

The following are steps to take in weeding the field where cowpeas are cultivated:

  1. 2 weeks after planting, use the hoe to weed your crop twice.
  2. To achieve a tidy field, weed your crops four weeks after planting.
  3. Check your crops for foreign plants growing along with the cowpeas once the first weeding is over.
  4. Uproot foreign plants and discard them.

7) Disease and pest control

Controlling diseases of cowpeas like anthracnose, Sclerotium stem, root and crown rot, damping-off, Cercospora leaf spot, etc require removing infected plants, crop rotation, spraying of fungicides, etc. Controlling pests require 2-3 sprays with insecticides is based on the harshness of the insect attack.

8) Harvesting cowpeas

When the pods are fully grown and dry, harvest your crop. One plucking may be adequate in early-maturing and erect kinds. Learn how to harvest cowpeas here.


I hope you find this article helpful. I would like to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions about growing cowpeas in Zambia. Also, learn how to grow cowpeas in containers here.

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